GOB Meets with JUNT to Negotiate Longstanding Matters
The Joint Union Negotiating Team (JUNT) met with the Government of Belize to discuss the reinstatement of increments for public workers by April 1. The meeting aimed to resolve the current impasse between the government and unions on wage cuts and other austerity measures. The JUNT emphasized the need for fair wage increases and the government assured the union that they would consider their proposal. After the six-hour meeting, President of the Public Service Union (PSU), Dean Flowers, said that GOB agreed to continue negotiations to reach a mutually acceptable agreement and have the increments unfrozen sometime this year.
Dean Flowers, President, Public Service Union: “Well effectively what changed was that one, there was a commitment that increments will be unfrozen this year and in accordance with the government’s position I think that we still have not agreed to the date. Our membership gave us a mandate and you know that mandate and we’ve presented that to the government we have not moved from that position and so Cabinet will now need to make a decision prior to the reading of the budget on Tuesday and get back to us before going back to the house on Friday. So that’s one progress.”
Minister of Education, Francis Fonseca, was one of the representatives from the government’s end of the negotiation table. According to Fonseca, today’s meeting was nothing short of productive and respectful. He says that while they were able to make significant progress in addressing the JUNT’s requests, especially regarding the reinstatement of increments, there is still no definite date as to when they will be restored.
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education: “As we have always said obviously we respect their right to take any such action. We certainly hope that that is not the case because we believe we’ve had very productive positive discussions, that we have listened very attentively to what they have said and that we have tried to address all of the issues that they have raised with us in a very responsible way so you know I think certainly I think coming out of our meeting today I think there’s a much better understanding of the way forward on these two big issues and as I said a final decision about the effective start date that’s really the only outstanding issue now the effective start date of the unfreezing of increments whether that will remain at July 1st or whether after Cabinet discusses the matter on Tuesday we will move it from July to April 1st as the unions have asked us to.”